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you thought well, next week i will run down to sears roebuck, you are out of luck. the only way you could get another set of tie years is to go before the government's tire board and prove that you have an essential reason for getting a new set of tires. likewise the radios, bicycles, clocks, even the common american could no longer purchase after the spring of 42. all the mechanisms are used in a war effort. ..
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a special welcome to our friends at c-span and the other media outlets who are with us tonight. we have a lot of special guests in the audience today. a special welcome to senator mike leigh, a good friend of the national archives. senator leave from utah. mark who himself clerked for future supreme court justice, justice alito when he was at the u.s. court of appeals. on monday, the constitution and the united states turned 225. the next program is one of the
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several the national archives is presenting this month in celebration of the founding document signed in philadelphia in september 17, 1787. tonight we are honored to welcome two distinguished guests of the past, present and future united states constitution. partners for tonight's program in honor of the constitution are the federalist society and the constitutional accountability center. thanks for the opportunity to collaborate this evening. well, the declaration of independence was long heralded as the icon of our independence of nationhood. the constitution did not get as much attention. it is not a saran is the decorations and as for parchment pages to the decorations single sheet to turn most casual readers. the lack of celebration, however, work to its advantage. over the years the declaration by success or semi, dust and smoke, but the constitution
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never exhibited. when you feel both original documents upstairs in the rotunda can you immediately see the difference. the declaration is stated to the point of eligibility in the constitution looks nearly as fresh as it did with my skype commit jacob challis presented it to the constitutional convention. celebrating constitution day in december 17 has been a long-standing tradition here at the national archives. it was the one day of the year when all four pages of the document were displayed to the public. as 2003, we been able to display all pages here browned in the new cases in the rotunda, but this year they have something special to the 225th anniversary for the first time in the history of the national archives, we'll display the resolution of transmittal to the consonantal congress, sometimes referred to as the fifth page of the constitution. this momentous document
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described as a constitution to be ratified and put into action. mobile to see it starting on friday, september 14 that will remain out to the constitution day september 17. on the morning of constitution day can do highly defended by celebration takes place. a naturalization ceremony for 225 a citizen in the united states. the national archives has hosted the ceremony for decades and never ceases to impress as the prospective citizens and send the constitution in front of the actual document. we encourage you to return over the next several days for special events of the constitution's birthday. on monday, september 17th from noon to 2:00, we do happy birthday u.s. constitution here in the theater, special program in celebration of assigning the constitution the first 225 gas
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will join the founding fathers for cake after their performance in the theater. on wednesday, september 19 at 7:00 p.m., the constitution and the war of 1812 again in the theater. this is the cloud more lecture. and moderates a panel discussion on what so proudly we hail messages from the war of 1812. tonight we're prot├ęge or two distinguished guests discuss past, present and future in the united states constitution. akhil amar is a professor at kyl university, where he teaches constitutional law at both the college and law school. he received both his ba from yell and served as an editor at the guild law journal. after clerking for stephen breyer and he was judge of the u.s. court of appeals, professor transport join.
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fester amarsaluting constitutional casebook from the privacy of the constitutional decision-making and is author of several other books, including the constitution and criminal procedure, bill of rights: reconstruction. america's constitution, a biography and most recent the unwritten constitution, the precedents and principles with live by. the honorable clarence thomas has served as justice of the supreme court of the united states for nearly 21 years. he attended conception seminary received an a.b. from the college of the holy cross and a jd from yellow school. he served as an assistant attorney general from 1974 to 1977 an attorney with the mephisto company from 77 to 79. for 1991 to 82 he served as
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assistant secretary for civil rights in the department of education and is chairman of the equal opportunity commission in 1982 to 1990. became a judge of the u.s. court of appeals from district of columbia circuit in 1990. president bush nominated him as an associate justice of the supreme court and took a seat on october 23rd, in 1891. duties and gentlemen, please welcome justice thomas and professor amar to this stage. [applause] >> thank you, ladies and gentleman for that warm welcome. thank you for the national archives and the staff for
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making this event possible. thanks to the federalist society and the accountability center and thank you, justice thomas for being with us today as we mark the 225th birthday, 225th anniversary of our constitution. and i guess i would like to start our conversation with the worst of the constitution, we the people and what that phrase means to you, how that phrase has changed over time takes two amendments. who wins this week? wended folks like you and me become part of this week? >> well, you know, obviously it wasn't perfect.
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that's an understatement. but you grew up in an environment can at least i was fortunate enough to, where we believed it was perfected. you know, it's very -- pretty much acceptable or may be invoked to be so critical, almost invariably critical of the treachery and pointing out what is wrong. there are obviously things wrong. there are obviously things wrong when i grew up in georgia and that was pointed out. but there was also this underlying belief that we were entitled to be a full participate in we the people. that is the way we grew a. it is the way the nuns who were all immigrants would explain it to eyes, that we were entitled
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by citizens of this country to be full participants. there is never any doubt that we were apparently equal. it says so in the declaration of independence. of course there were times later on that i too became quite sensual and would make good remarks in reciting the not so pleasant remarks in the pledge of allegiance, or say things that i think were glad they were not the cell phone. people can youtube around forever. but i was just upset about things. but i grew up in an environment with people around me who believed that this country could be better, that the framework for this they are in we the people. we used to memorize the preamble to the constitution.
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it was so fascinating to think of these black kids in the segregated schools reciting the preamble to the constitution of the united states or standing out in the schoolyard, say the pledge of allegiance every day before school. what do we believe? everything so obviously in front of you is wrong. you can't go to the public library. you can't live in certain neighborhoods. you can't go to certain schools, but despite all that you live in an environment of people who said it was still our birthright to be included and continue to push not only to change the laws, but should maintain a belief in our hearts. i think today we sort of thing at all of the work is done with the laws. the heavy lifting for us was done here because the people who raised us to believe that in the
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nuns who taught us believe that. you know, today i was just down at louisiana state university. there is this tremendous enthusiasm about folk all. i am a diehard nebraska fan myself. so i understand these enthusiasms. but can you imagine i grew up? that's the enthusiasm i had for a country that did not allow us to fully participate. one of the birthrates that we passed on, and i still have it. i still believe it is perfectible. and i think i resist that kind of attitude that it is all lost. it is the same attitude i had been. it is ours. it is ours to make the best of
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comment to disagree about and work with, to realize its imperfections, but to keep working with it. so when i think of we the people, there is a lot. i think of the exclusion, but the possibility and eventuality of the inclusion view. look, no one cares that 40 years ago you and i would not be sitting here talking about the constitution of the united states except to say they were excluded. and that was hardly noticed except your professor of law, so they probably noticed that. >> urogenital care for yourself. [laughter] >> you know, that is nice of you to say, but i really look back and i have to say it's the same
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people. you know, i try to say it over those years and that is dismissed as well as being pollyanna or something like that. but i still say it's all the people who never gave up and had every reason to. first would be people like my grandparents. not the cynical people a little. these unlettered people who got up every day believed that even if they didn't make it, those who came after them would. it is almost as though they self-sacrifice. they were self-sacrificing rates for these two boys and for generations to come afterwards. so you know, people say you have and i've done or that. i think you and i both have
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people who gave the last full measure for eyes and then they come in many ways. so i can really take too many bows with that. >> said there is so much they are and over the course of our conversation i hope to mention the declaration of independence and the fullness of time you alluded to the last full measure in the gettysburg address. you mentioned who was in and who was sent and we in hamas changed over time. i decide to send little bit. i agree with the latest little easy to be cynical. their exclusions and we can't forget that we did not mean everyone in the founding. just to pick up a map and maputo segued towards the other things about. just so the rest of us can all begin to appreciate how extraordinary disparate ideas that we celebrate.
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so 225 years ago, looks at august 1787, self-government exists almost nowhere in the planet outside of the new world. you have a few sheep and goat herders in switzerland. this was before there were swiss banks and holland is in the process of listing self government. engram has that house of commons, but also a host of lawyers and in hereditary king. and so, you look back at the vast multitude of the planet, no self-government. russia, china, india, africa, most of europe, absolute silence. look back to the previous millennia.
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you have self-government existing in a very few tiny city state's. ask them to my flickr out because they can't defend themselves militarily anyone democracy did exist they speak the same language, worship the same god, climate and culture over a very small area is. and that is all of world history with very little democracy. today democracy is half the planet like our chances. they asked me what changed? what is the hinge of all that? i would say those words we the people. 225 years ago as a hinge of world history for all the conclusions at the time was way better, more perfect than for the first time ever in the history of the planet an entire continent got to vote on how they and their posterity would become a man. there were lots of conclusions
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from our perspective, but we wouldn't exist as a democratic country but for that. i would say it's a hinge upon modern history. either before democracy, almost nowhere. and the project has begun. it's launched. it's not perfect. better than what we had before, not at all as good as what we have now because i think we have gotten better. i want to talk about how that process is getting better. i think that we the people do ordain the establishment. it's pretty stunning but we actually did. if you pick up and another thing i miss them and they move in time. it's not just that we voted. it was a pretty fair about and a vote that could be lost and in fact it was voted down in rhode island and voted down in north carolina. it was that rate. but it's a interesting concurrence in a case called
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ohio versus mcintyre. we also talked about the breadth of free speech. people could before the constitution or against it. though i wish it down, and was put in prison if they like george washington or didn't like church washington or they did an anonymous speech, just a proliferation, robust, wide-open. up and down that year. of course that is the year that we live today, this month come at the beginning of that. so, some thoughts on free speech. at that moment a nasty look back in a mall worker way forward in time. >> well, i don't have a lot of company with my views on mcintyre and anonymous speech, but she think about 225 years ago you had the articles of the federation company congress that didn't work, was not functioning
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[laughter] that was inadvertent. [laughter] but it is very interesting convention that arguably wasn't quite what they are authorizing. you have the resolution that's going to be on an exhibit. it's kind of interesting they were worded. some of there is unanimous in their and uses it in an interesting way. but you know and you think of going to washington and try to get to leave mount vernon and he doesn't want to leave because his family back home. he's been away over four years and didn't want to leave. and it goes to philadelphia and they do it. to come up with for months and
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now you have it, going to the congress and it will be sent to the people to ratify. >> and amazing. >> you know, when i read about it i'm totally a. i get chills about it because that is the beginning of the development of the place that allows you and me to be here. it started that way i feel about my home town of savanna. it's got a lot of problems, but it's my home. it's got a lot of problems. i don't know if i could do any better, but it's ours and we get a chance to this wonderful opportunity that we have in different roles to make it all work, to try to understand, to
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try to make the country work. maybe a part of thing we could do with celebrating the birthday. would you have a constitution if everybody there was that? would you have the amendments to the constitution if mason was more cynical? would you have the declaration of independence as jefferson was a setback rather than someone who actually believed? would you have a constitution if madison didn't care? i mean, just all the negative stuff. i've come to the point and i tell my law clerks that i've been in the city doing these jobs now for half of my natural life. the only reason to do them are the ideas now.
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these are things you believe in this constitution in this country. i know that it's not what she's saying washington d.c. anymore. you're supposed to sit there some ankle, some methodology are pushing. there is a regionalism, textualism. there are useless peripheral debates other than just doing our jobs as best we can and try to live up to our respective votes to make it all work. you know, your book, you're saying you've got taxed, but should also have over here this unwritten part were all these things are happening over here to make it all work. >> so two thoughts on that as you mentioned that the declaration and bill of rights, to set the stage about why the constitution, this thing really worthy of our celebration,
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acknowledging who was a part. none of the ancient democracy to have existed. never had a democratic constitution making process. none of them would put about by the people themselves and act insofar as her pre-imperial rome. in 1776 as great as the declaration was this not put too though. not a lot of free speech. you're either for or against and you can't have this philosophical debate. the constitution is put to vote in which eight of the 13 states, property qualifications had lowered or eliminated compared to what they were before. and then a year-long conversation in which people say, you know, there's some problems here. in effect, it is crowd sourced and we the people actually say, where are the rights? we get this bill of rights because of that conversation and
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even before there is freedom of speech, there is the practice of freedom of speech. five times the bill of rights uses the phrase we the people and i think it is because it is coming from the people. so this process of correction you are talking about that is more disconnect to the democratic ideal. when you get people together you have to make sure they're not cynical. there's no constitution if we don't prevail, but she's got to keep them on board, keep them believing them to keep some part of the day. maybe open next time and they do. recall that the bill of rights, to keep the conversation going so that she can actually perfect day. or at least make it better than it was the day before with the bill of rights. >> you know, i don't know whether they are anti-federalist. maybe they didn't quite believe that the national government should be given unfettered
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authority. maybe they were the people who are saying this to the bill of rights. you have to temper this authority with individuals. i don't know whether i would call it anti-federalist. there were people who certainly saw that they had these god-given rights and thought this to be an intrusion upon it if you didn't have someone there. so think about it. which you have the bill of rights if he didn't have what we would call anti-federalist. and you are a fierce believer in independence of thought and not even george washington and then franklin might've had a complete monopoly so what was useful that she had a george mason critiquing. >> i think george mason seemed a pretty stubborn guy. the other thing was that i think
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that he made it clear. he did not undermine the process to go back and look at the last days of the convention. george mason did not throw a multi-dimension to the works. what he did as he made it clear. >> he didn't filibuster. >> he made it absolutely clear. he thought you needed a bill of rights. he was not a politician. he was not into making a lot of friends and allies. he was going to argue this point man he was going to return home. i happen to think that this is pretty effect is. remember, he was very helpful in developing the constitution with a strong national government. but he wanted to build this wall to make it clear that that did
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not exist in sort of a contradiction or opposition to these individual rights. again, he wasn't cynical. he wasn't an obstructionist, but he was rightly adamant that these protections list. >> maybe will start to move forward in time with your permission. >> the people who oppose the declaration of independence come you never hear again. they're basically cast politically into the void. the people who oppose the constitution think it could be better so than anti-federalist, they are not cast out. to become president to the united states. james merrill, vice president of rich jerry, justice on the supreme court.
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they are kept in the process. >> but think about it. it continues to play out. it's the same debate. what are the limits? you know, i hear people today make it seem as though we do talk about the miss on the national government, but that is antithetical to the constitution come existence of the national government. it is embedded in the original argument. the argument was always about limits. all these people are trying to push us back to the articles. that is unhelpful. the very man who pushed for these limits actually hope to build the constitution. so the debate when you move it forward, whether you look at macola versus maryland, it is always arguing about whether it should be a national bank come you argued about the same limitations.
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you can fast forward today. that debate is embedded in the very formation of the country from the beginning, from the time we adopted the constitution, that debate existed and that debate has continued. there was a civil war fought notches over slavery, which obviously i am on the right side winning. [laughter] i have a personal interest in not. and there are lots of these things, but at the same time you understand there were some people still fighting that debate were engaged in that debate come in subsequent to that, even with the adoption of the 13th and 14th and 15th amendment he still has talking about the limits of the national government. what is the role of the national government? had we protect individual rights and individual liberties? >> so it's actually move forward in time and start talking about
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the event that presage the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. and i want our audience -- you and i of course know this, but i want everyone out there on c-span two recognize that this month isn't just the 225th anniversary. the year that changes everything is we the people moment is also the 150th anniversary to the mind of the first initial information proclamation, which is issued immediately after the battle of antietam, which has five september 17, 1862, 75 years to the day after the constitution has gone public.
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so we've are today not just the 225th anniversary of the constitution come but the sesquicentennial irving picard of the emancipation proclamation document and you will also find here in this building a hub of little more to say at the end. we been talking about some of our forebears, founding fathers, some thoughts about every founding father abraham. we mentioned may be bringing lincoln into the picture, too and your thoughts about this new birth of freedom that begins with the emancipation. you have a family story. you know, your grandfather. to write this book and imagine his grandmother was a freed slave. so some thoughts about that. >> you know for us in the south, abe lincoln was great. i'm a big abe lincoln fan.
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i possibly have photos of lincoln. i have a problem of everything and the cynical revisionists. abe lincoln not quite a bit to us. you go and read his speech and you begin to see what the country is. it's like the beginning. once again you've got the south is one way of life and again with the peculiar institution that in my opinion is the single greatest immorality in the country. how can you have a free country? they understood that. it's a contradiction that contradicts the very founding premise of the country. but at any rate, ligands for us, when i grew up was the author of real liberty. you have the emancipation proclamation from the field
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number 15. >> tell us what that is. >> that was the actual order that freed the slaves in the eastern part of coastal georgia, i think denis for his florida. and of course my family was on an island and plantations along the coast of georgia for over 100 years. we are from an island just south in the carolinas. in the family would remain on that island even after the civil war. it was a storm actually, a hurricane in the 1890s over to pinpoint some of the more instant mainland. so the fascinating thing was that people that'll be maintained culture, but i was this desire to be a part of this
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country and lincoln was the promise of that promise went on for years. but there was that promise underpromise of the 48 and so you would hear people talk about the lack of freedom in the same way they taught about the unfilled promise. but as field order number 15 that directly affected the forebears. so they had the very special place in my heart and i certainly keep in my office a copy of the emancipation proclamation as i of course am very particular. it's mounted on my wall. because of my particular interest in medicine and what it has done with those who came before me. we are from a plantation south of savanna. my grandfather was raised and
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that is where we find, just across from the plantation or his grandmother had five and his great-grandfather bought land in the 1870s, right after he was free. and we all come as my grandfather said, we'll were going to be raised in the ways of slavery and that is the way we were raised on the farm. it's a very hard life, but it is a way of life of which i am enormously proud. there's not been a moment in my life when i've had nothing but the greatest pride in people who grew up under the most difficult circumstances with the dignity that is unmatched in the city in any of the great cities in this country. it is almost as though it is a nobility of humanity, simply because of the dignity of the negatives put in their way and
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the harshness of life. and as i say in my book, and i mean it, my grandfather still reigns as the greatest person i know of or know about. you tell me a person who could have accepted and not have a father, but as a mother. as he said, and it from pillar to post his grandmother and uncle and no education and yet segregation, jim crow law, rose above it and insisted that his grandsons rose above it. fight, participate, eliminate the wrong, but not be consumed by or destroyed by. and i don't think you could get much greater than that. >> you and i are huge lincoln
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fans. do you think at all in the culture that link and so to? in so many ways are so much talked about the founding fathers committee said house divided speech. that house phone away because of contradiction. and lincoln's generation rebuilds it. delete it that claim to be the greatest generation, too. to read today in our law and culture give enough credit to that we founding? >> you know come you think of the great moments in our history. we talk about of course the revolution, certainly the constitution were we celebrate that 225 years. it was all coming apart at the country as a know it today is
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reshaped after the civil war. the civil war amendments. you teach in the area of constitution of law. you are an expert. what would it look like if there was no amendment or no rights to state? so there is a whole -- there's so much that goes beyond the war. it's on my locker is we have to go to gettysburg. this isn't just about, you know come up all little thread set up what we do every day and talk about textualists aeruginosa would argue it is much bigger than that. you know, i see some people here who argue before the court. i'm not once thought that people who came there did not understand that what we did was larger than who we are, that we were engaged in an enterprise to
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preserve some thing that is truly great. do we agree? no more than the framers agreed. no more than mason and hamilton agreed. they do we say they did not want it to work? no, no. that is the beauty of we the people. we the people agree it should be exactly what we agree. we disagree not so too the point that we destroyed, but certainly to the point that we can think we're perfect game and were still here. so i think that lincoln saw what was happening in the civil war. he saw that slavery, we could not exist, half slave and half free. you couldn't do it. it was not going to happen. he understood that you have to have a union. and he knew ultimately could not
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be a slave -- from a country that allows slavery. i know you have your vision is for people quibble. i don't have time to pick out those balint -- the lint out of everything. lincoln preserved the union. frederick douglass who mentioned. i also report should have hid behind my desk that's been there since i went on the court two decades ago. i am a big fan of frederick aggress. i wants you to think of what courage it took for him, a free slave to set the declaration of independence, not something that is foreign, but the founding document. he cited that as exhibit a in what was wrong. you didn't need to go to any other shores or any other ideology. it was our founding ideology.
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how could she be inherently equal and have slaves? how could you be free and enslaved? he understood that. so we thought a great war. you go and what does the state? it's a tooth of living to make it all worthwhile. we are the living. we have the opportunity, finite amount of time to make it work. so i hear people, you know, you disagree with someone. while that person's motives must be that you does not the case. i don't think mason's motives are bad. it is not necessarily cheery fellow. you could probably say you know he's the power man whose son was upset about some pain. but he contributes. washington did not want to go. you know, hamilton, you know he
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was young. maybe he wanted to make money. i don't know. but he contributed. and so i think that wishes sort of look at this more in the way of not warring factions like the civil war, but rather as people who are engaged in this great project is lincoln sort of left does to gettysburg. and we may be disagreeing. that's one of the things i do like. i've been marinol to renumber of numbers and in the years i have been there, i ominously, wade thinking that every member billy wants to make it work. every single member don't agree with each other, but somehow they agree this is more important that we are a mistake
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to make this thing work. so yes, i am a lincoln person. i am a frederick douglas person. i'm a booker t. washington person. i grew up loving these people and i will go to my grave. one last point. i want you to think of a little black kid in savanna, georgia and the carnegie library in b.c. pictures of some great emancipator's, booker t. washington, frederick to a close, debut bp tabori, george washington. see what i'm saying? this is a part of your life. as a part of your fabric. this is the underpinning. you bring their sons that it's not some ambition.
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is this obligation to fulfill some thing that may start. it's this: you have two do what you're supposed to do. it's a hard? sometimes. is it disagreeable? well, sometimes. but is it the right thing? yes, all the time. and i am glinted that we could get lincoln to come back and we could ask him how hard the civil war was and how hard being president was, whether or not he would say to you if it was worth it. i want to but he was. if you would ask washington to come back and ask them whether it was worth leaving family to fight the valley forge revolution, he would say it was worth it to save mount vernon to go to the constitutional convention. he would say is worth it to
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these to become president. he would say it was worth it. all of the absentee would say it and i think any of a shoe deal to say it. so i have a lincoln person. i am a booker t. washington, frederick douglass and i keep those around me to remind me of those obligations are coming yours and mine. >> for the first time i think i heard you. you were talking about the declaration of independence, which of course mr. lindh did a loser right out and said gate of the gettysburg address. four score and seven -- but as 1863, 1776 when you do the math. our fathers to get this industry, minicourse from the declaration. our fathers brought forth in a new nation and dedicated to the
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proposition that all men are created equal. it is the language from the declaration. you have thoughts about the declaration and it's a very in the rotunda alongside the gettysburg address and the emancipation and the parchment constitution itself. so i just wanted to invite you as you've talked about lincoln to tell us about how you think about the declaration and its part in the american story. >> you think the beginning we have these right, were and are too to certain inalienable rights that may give up some of those guys by consent. that's critical. to me when i started it wasn't so much about government. it was about what was the best argument against slavery? it was as simple as that. when you grow up under
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segregation, you take the founding documents and use it as the point to make to others to think that segregation is right. this is our founding document. the nuns ingrained it in us. the declaration and our faith in god are created equal. they didn't have to go to the religious document. they went to the founding document that we are created equal. that was always this thing you kept with you when you were treated badly, when people try to ingrained. you know, i hear people say it affected your self-esteem. it never affect the mind. absolutely no point in my life because from day one we knew we were people.
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the nuns said so, my grandfather said so and by golly the declaration of independence said so. it may have taken a more, black crow, jim crow laws, but i matter how contradictory that was, it starts there. the new book. that is what got me started again at eeoc to read this great document, to talk about founding. i wasn't going to be a judge. who knows how i became a judge. i was only interested in the facts about this country. the things that made it worth having in the lo and behold come to the understanding that the standing of the document is a wonderful thing and that was in the mid-1980s.
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i was chairman of eeoc, worry more about russia's been getting all sorts of trouble over the age discrimination and employment act in this hearing and that hearing, none of which was of great consequence as far as the structure of the country. the spending hour after hour learning and the things you write about and teach so eloquently. i think that for me that central document, the declaration of independence and to then go to gettysburg and think about it this charge, to think about the carnage they are, lives lost, the great battles before at fredericksburg and wilderness, chance are built. you talk about shiloh and all
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these battles for people defending what they think is a way of life, all of it. although bloodshed to settle this contradiction. and we won. we have our country and i like to go to gettysburg to say to my clerics, do we deserve this? do we deserve the sacrifice from the country that we have? and are we living up to that? just go anyplace. think of the people at battle of the bulge or you think of them during any war. and assess themselves, let's
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assume without debating whether you should of had this battle for this or that, they've done their part. have we done ours? the thing that i was told, i was going to be up priests. that's the only real sort of goal that i had. and what is a priest? are called to do something. every ex-seminary has always looked for the next focus. your call now is to do your part, to be able to earn the right to be here. >> you mentioned in your book on the first page on the last page, i'll mention again, god. the declaration of independence, from the very beginning, nature and nature's god endowed by our
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creator, a variant of the us military think which, appealing to the supreme judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions. and they're not talking about roberts cj. as great as he is. and now, thoughts and then even the constitution and the references are so prominent. janie randall has talked about my students are at an interesting paper about accepted in the constitution. but it's not very prominent in the preamble or other articles. just as we occurred, debates have conversations about god on the coins, whether they were sufficient references to god on 9/11.
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so it's about the role of references to god in our national discourse and our public culture. >> we are kidding ourselves if we don't take is prominent in the central part of our formation. and you can argue neil is some more atheism. we know it's there. so the first amendment is what? congress shall walk the law? respect the establishment for the free exercise thereof. otherwise stay out of it and leave people alone. when it comes to the religion, obviously assumes the religion. and there's god. we do with the religion square. they weren't like worshiping a pope or something. they believe in god. so i'm not going to revise this to pretend they grew up in a religious environment and i was going to be up priest.
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i'm glad and i thank god i believe in god or would probably be enormously angry right now. so the iu grateful for my faith and unapologetic about it. >> here is one interesting -- i mean, it's pretty remarkable. we started talking about how we have changed over time. we could have added the 18th amendment and women becoming part of this ever greater arc of democratic inclusion. >> turn to bat right? but in general, most of the amendment, which he said before, made things more perfect. >> but then we got rid of it. >> i don't drink, but i understand. but on religion, it is pretty extraordinary the constitution
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frees every american to be eligible for public office. there is no religious test. that wasn't the prominent feature of the state constitution. a lot of them were religious tests. >> in new england particular you had to establish religion. so i understand that, but i'm just simply saying the country moved on. i grew up at a time when people were respectful of religion and religious people. i grew up in the church was open all the time and nobody broke in and nobody engaged in sacrilegious conduct in the church. as churches in in the inner city. i want to 6:00 mass to be the altar boy. the u.s. government surplus. i'm scared of dogs more than anything else. but you know, i really like what
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i do. i can't transpose that were superimposed that best transpose or superimpose on the current day. i think our country is what it is. there's some of us were there was nothing in front of me to tell me it was okay to keep trying. there is nothing in front of me that explained all those hurt, the pain, the things that have been. even in this city, there is nothing to make you a better person to force you to be a good person when everything around you says you could be cynical and react and punch back. you know, so i know all the smart alex. they know better than i do. but they weren't there. they weren't in attendance, they
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didn't walk in those days and i thank god for the environment i was in, of people who have strong faith. the schools i went to. did we impose it on anyone else? no, it was ours. and i certainly in my own daily life respect other people. i don't abuse them. i don't do things to them. you respect them and that all comes from the way i was raised and that includes the strong thing. >> and this thought that i had, which is i think we as americans have grown into a pretty remarkably respectful face culture in the following sense. we began by saying the system is open to people of many different faiths. we are not going to require a belief in the trinity or any particular type. so here's what strikes me at
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this moment as we look at 225 years later at the process. there is was a project where most americans that the founding for mainstream protestant. mainstream protestants today sort of remains a huge part of our culture. none of the justices on the court is mainstream protestant. neither -- [inaudible] >> but john boehner were harry reid, none of the four presidential candidates. >> you spend a lot of time following this stuff. spent on the barack obama -- what i'm saying is it is an extraordinary openness actually 25 years later. >> we talk about it a lot.
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you know, i liked it when i was a kid come but she didn't talk about it a whole lot. you just live your life. we talk a lot about this person is back, that person is this and that we'll pretend we are all tolerant. i liked it when people didn't care. i was catholic. you talk about a minority within a minority within a minority. it was a black catholic in savanna, georgia. now that was what is an insular -- that says, a discrete insular minority. ..
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i think what you should be more concerned about that seems to be more relevant. but even with that, these are good people. these are people who -- i go back to what i said -- they are continuing what was started 200
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years ago, that debate. these good people -- justice ginsberg, now how often do we agree? [laughter] >> a lot, actually. >> really? [laughter] >> mostly unanimous. >> unanimous cases, yes. [laughter] i agree on the unanimous cases. [laughter] i like that. [laughter] there is one category of cases, unanimous cases. but she is a good person. she is a fabulous judge. you know, we are friends but i think that is when you want. they still believe and work together to try to get right but don't change their mind just
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because they are there because it is. you want them to think the same way you had at the convention and we the people, the ratification debate. i'm going to spend time going back simply because that is the time you talk about people actually saying what the believe. people actually fighting about it. people actually caring, writing articles, the federalist papers. people traveling in having meetings at home in their churches. but having people meeting in their town halls all over the country be dating. and this is fascinating. people actually read the constitution. that's something that's new.
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they read it back then and there was no internet to read. but they somehow printed that. the people like couldn't read had agreed to them and form opinions. so i think it was yes, i think it was a debate about this country and its formation in how it would develop and what direction and protection. and it continues. it's the same debate. we should talk about the commerce clause and equal protection to process, the first amendment to read it all the same debate and it's an appropriate debate and it's one that i wish we would reach the same high level but we saw in philadelphia and at other points
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in the ratification process, who we see in the federalist today. who sits at home and troughs the arguments that you see, letters? you have a staff of drafting these things. these are people that are engaged. you knew the constitution. these are not scholars. these were not people that appropriated to themselves to interpret what to talk about. these performers, these are business people. some of them had formal education and some did not but they cared about this country. i go back to your book can't you talk about the written and unwritten constitution.
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it's really what we do. it's the sort of trying to bring to apply the evin send problems and cases and develop them and that debate continues on each one of those, and that's why. that's why the arguments are. that's why the scholarship is. one thing i like about the tone of your book is its positive and refreshing. it's not all i have all the answers. let's talk about. i tell my folks when we were gone opinions you've got to explain this. but i don't think they are doctors fear. it's their constitution, too to
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read and interpret it any way to make it accessible to them and that is what i think you are trying to do with your book is to make it accessible to open it up. >> you are talking a lot about the past of the to and 25,000 years to sort of arc of the ever greater inclusion and talk about the women's suffrage but that is a huge revolutionary moment of additional inclusion, these amendments of prohibition aside generally tend to expand liberty and inequality its striking the they don't take us back. one thing and understanding written in the constitution might be the constitution is still to be written.
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the unfinished constitution. we are not done. history is not over. what amendments are imaginable over the next to under 25 years if we look back. >> if you expect to hang around. [laughter] >> just thinking about -- you and i spent a lot of our time thinking about 225 years ago, 150 years ago, 75 years ago. if we turn that around and try to think forward 75 years from now or 150 -- 2025 years from now any thoughts at all. they are not going to come up before the court immediately. but the thoughts on the democratic project in america were the world going forward. >> i'm not that creative.
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you know, i do think. i wonder when people look back as we are looking back now, when we say we added something will they look at what we have written and understand we actually thought about things or we were trying to score points. i would hope we could say that we have made at least they could say that we've made a positive contribution as positively as you imply at the convention, those that produce pete indeed they added something. you know, when we do opinions, i don't like to get into this back-and-forth with my colleagues and quibble with them. i like at the end of it to say this is what i think that we should be looking at for the
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approach that we should be taking. and that doesn't mean every letitia agree with me or they should change their mind. i just think what you are trying to do is think it through and tell them exactly what you think without personal attacks and at homonyms. there is enough of that. try to add something. so i think that we are obligated. you and me. if we talk about the great document, we are obligated to try to improve it. we are obligated to disagree, but in a way that is constructive and in a way that adds something and a way that is worthy of the constitution. we think it is a document appeared and you have kids to teach them what they talk about things of a certain way and to each other in a certain way in a
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respectful way it is a great document, and i don't deny this. i really don't. i have lived this. i have lived the addictions. i said in spite of that. but it is to last from you and i thought. but we are talking about i have a job, i started yet this month to go back to that job that we are called to. you and i have an obligation to do in a positive way and why don't want is for someone to say well he was there but it was cynical or - four didn't think it through. but i know this i want them to say i agree with you. that isn't my point. the point is do you think it
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through and communicated in a way that adds to this development that you are talking about. think about harlan and plessey. estimate the great dissenter. >> dewey quote from the opinion or the descent that won the day 60 years later so you write it in a way that contributes. >> alone in dissent. >> as on a understand it if my recollection cells me which is kind of interesting but these are little tidbits that i think sometimes as my wife says i get caught up in these little things we've read these cases over and over and over just the eloquence
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of it. nones no cast. >> when he didn't quite say that. he said it knows no cost. and i truly believe that we added something. and at that time, he was alone. people thought they could deal with the senate's constitutional way based on our skin color. that is a contribution. what have we held on to? the majority opinion of those rules from justice harlan yes my understanding that dissent was with the justice thurgood marshall meant when he was responding to the thoughts that he was having to great difficulties with in doing the
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right thing across the spectrum. he would read that dissent. he was a great man and asked for a giant and a kid merely trying to get out of it. >> you now sit on the seat of thurgood marshall. >> i sit in the chair. i think that he occupied his own. [laughter] i would like to just say a word. people do a lot of talking on behalf of other people. i sat with him in the meeting when i first got to the court. a courtesy visit that was supposed to last for two minutes and lasted for two and a half hours. they gave me the stories, and i said to him i wish i had the courage and the age i could travel with him across the south that i doubt i would have had the courage that he had to

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Book TV
CSPAN September 23, 2012 10:00pm-11:15pm EDT

Akhil Reed Amar Education. (2012) 'America's Unwritten Constitution The Precedents and Principles We Live By.'

TOPIC FREQUENCY Us 12, Washington 7, United States 6, Georgia 5, U.s. 4, Mason 4, Philadelphia 3, Mcintyre 2, Vernon 2, George Mason 2, Abe Lincoln 2, Frederick Douglass 2, Lincoln 2, Savanna 2, Russia 2, America 2, Eeoc 2, Hamilton 2, Thurgood Marshall 2, Textualism 1
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